To the OP's topic, I think that the general root of problems stem from the lack of consequences for their actions. It's the obvious answer, but it's also got the most credence. In reality, talking disparagingly about the aforementioned topics (sexuality, racism, etc.) directly to a person's face is going to have immediate consequences, such as being ostracized from a social group or being put under the threat of legal or physical assault. There are plenty of cases where talking about these things a certain way earns you an elbow to the face or being sued. Happens all the time, especially with being sued.
But online, those threats vanish. People can say whatever they want without fear of any real reprisal. Yeah it can get you banned, but often most won't go through the steps necessary to get the person in question kicked out (some will, of course, but the percentage of people who will vs. people who won't is pretty lopsided, so it can take awhile to build up a sufficient paper trail), and it does little to stop a die hard troll from simply creating another account and resuming his terror streak (GTA:V, rather amusingly, specifically addresses this in the mission where Michael rescues his son).
I disagree with the earlier post that people are different online than they are offline. Sure, they probably talk and act differently in the real world, but as before it's due to the consequences of socially unacceptable actions. I feel that online you're actually seeing the real person more than if you were to actually, physically know the person in question. I'm not talking about the way they talk so much as how they act in the virtual universe. Being a poor sport, stabbing people in the back, or deliberately attempting to ruin another person's gaming experience are personality traits. If a person did not have those traits, they would be unable to act on them in any universe, not just an online one. We all have the ability to act a certain way, but it's your personality that ultimately judges whether or not we act on those impulses.
Specific to GTA:O, it has it's share of trolls like any online game. What is nice about this game is that we have ways of getting even or avoiding the problem. Passive mode isn't perfect, but it's something at least. For me, I stay the hell away from other players whenever I can. Those who come after me, I kill. If they kill me, then I will usually try to level the score, going to great lengths to do so sometimes. I almost never start a fight unless it's over a crate or something, and in that case I'd say it's warranted aggression.
And if somebody is really bothering you, this game also provides ways of getting even or getting away from the problem (new session, etc.) Whining about getting killed over and over unfairly isn't going to do anything beyond making you look like a crybaby. Instead, find a way to get even and act on it, or find a way out. If you aren't willing to go the distance to get what you want, then I don't know what to tell you. Nobody can help you if you don't want to help yourself.
Well said. I couldn't have articulated this any better. Personality traits like that are unquestionably 100% responsible for the anti social, delinquent game play in GTAO. It's definitely responsible for sh*tty tactics like corpse camping low level n00bs. Which goes far beyond the ordinary PvP style of game play IMO.
If a person in real life is a social pariah in their peer group, been constantly bullied/victimized, have poor socialization skills, unpopular and/or has difficulty maintaining relationships, then this pattern of behavior is likely going to show up in their game play mindset. Regardless of whether that online game is GTAO, Ultima Online, Guild Wars, WoW, CoD, RDR, BF, or the upcoming TESO.....
The PvP nature of online games is easily changed by society and/or the gaming devs. A person's nature is not.